Carolina, the stylist who cuts my hair, was busy touching up the roots of another client when I arrived for my quarterly haircut. One of her colleagues took me back to wash my hair (providing me with an awesome and greatly appreciated scalp massage before doing so) and when she was done, she wrapped my head tightly in a towel and asked me to wait there. From where I sat, I had an excellent view of Carolina working on her other client. So I sat and watched.
I was mesmerized by the care she took as she separated small sections of hair and then dabbed the chemicals on–first the top and then underneath. Miniscule lines of hair, neatly parted, cleanly covered, were dispensed with quickly and perfectly. She caught me watching her at one point and mouthed “just a few minutes.” And I responded out loud–“I’m just watching–do what you need to do.”
It seems like a boring thing to watch, but I guess i’m just a freak for liking to watch people do what they do well when they are doing it well. I doubt Carolina thought what she was doing was worth watching, but, for me, it was a reminder of why I choose to sit and wait for her rather than go back to other establishments. I like that she is so meticulous. I like that she cares that a thing is done right when it is done.
It wasn’t more than a couple minutes of my day that I sat waiting. I was reminded why I don’t get irritated (much) while waiting to see my doctor I know from experience that when I go in and ask questions, he will take his time and answer them as I need him to. Sometimes this takes more time than he may have planned for me. So, when I’m sitting in the waiting room, I’m imagining him taking his time with someone else’s concerns and my anxiety lessens. I’d rather wait and feel I’d been listened to than get in and out and feel like I’m on a conveyor belt of health care.
It was a nice meditation, watching Carolina work. Maybe she was overbooked that day. Maybe I should have been upset that she wasn’t ready for me when I arrived on time. But then I wouldn’t have had this time to reflect. And truly, while I couldn’t have watched her do this work much longer than it took, watching her was instructive on so many levels. I like to watch when people do things that are learned, routine and intuitive–whether it is laying in hair color or colored tiles. It makes me feel… safe? Does that make sense? It makes me feel like there are boundaries and reasons for doing what we do and that it all matters in some important or not so important way. It makes me feel that people are giving care and thought to what they do and their learning and experience are valued by those of us who don’t have experience and learning in those areas.
Maybe if executives at BP had watched the equivalent of Carolina coloring hair, the last month’s headlines might have been a whole lot different and 11 families wouldn’t be grieving today. Maybe that’s a far stretch–from hair dye to gushing underwater wells–but maybe it isn’t either.